My cats know I'm made of meat!!
November 13, 2008 5:32 PM   Subscribe

Potentially gross question about two cats that like the taste of human flesh.

So Mrs Mutant & I adopted two kittens last February.

Black, female, affectionate, playful, keep the rodents at bay, all good cat stuff.

One small concern: both cats like the taste of my flesh.

Mrs Mutant & I both like to use our MacBooks while chilling before sleep. Perhaps three months ago we noticed that both kittens, while lying on our bed with us, would for long periods of time sniff my toes (it gets grosser).

Then we noticed (well, I noticed) a few nights later that each would try to nibble on my toe flesh. Repeatedly. Not trying to bite off chunks of flesh, but careful, small cautious nibbles of the flesh. Seems like they both pay the most attention to the space in between my toes, but each will bite and nibble and lick (warned you it was gross, but there is worse) my feet for as long as I let them.

Very insistent, very focused on my toes, I've been woken up by their behaviour.

So what's up?

I've been around cats most of my life. I've never seen this before. About the only possible thing I can think of is my time working in the Sub Saharan African jungles; I caught more than one nasty bug and did at one time have some (colourful and thus cool) fungus growing on my toes.

But the fungi have long been evicted as I took the cure (which made me pretty sick as well) so I'm not sure if fungus is a viable hypothesis.

Any ideas? Oh yeh, both cats like my toe nail clippings. So much so they come running when I unzip the manicure kit. Now I've gotta clip my nails behind closed doors, otherwise they push each other out of the way in an effort to consume my clippings (final grossness).

As they get larger do I have to be even more concerned? Or is there a simple explanation beyond, "secretly in their primal hearts, your cats know you are made of meat" ?
posted by Mutant to Pets & Animals (26 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You should be pleased because these kittens have bonded with you - it seems like your kittens have not been weaned, and have mistaken your toes for teats. This behaviour is pretty normal, generally kittens outgrow it as they grow into cats...but sometimes they don't. Heh.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:39 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: They are probably

A) Showing affection

B) Finding your feet satisfyingly salty

It's probably a form of suckling/kneading.
posted by fire&wings at 5:40 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Both my cats have this, always have. They both grew up bitey but adorable. They can't sleep in our bedroom though, because we like to sleep without steel-toed boots.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:41 PM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My vet says that ours does it for the salt. Mine tries to eat HIS OWN toenail clippings and the vet says that is normal and a "non-easily digestible form of protein" so not to worry.
posted by arnicae at 5:44 PM on November 13, 2008

Best answer: Yup, it seems to be a salt thing. One of our cats really likes to lick us when we are sweaty.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:47 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nthing salt. They'll lick the back of your hand, too.
posted by rokusan at 5:49 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Definitely salt. I have to keep my partner's family's cat away from my motorcycle helmet, otherwise it gets full of the smell of a licking cat.
A cat-smelling closed-face motorcycle helmet is very unpleasant.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:55 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Foot smell is irresistible to cats. ZOMG dirty socks are best evar.
posted by desuetude at 5:59 PM on November 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You may find this web site useful in evaluating your cats' behavior:

How to tell if your cat is plotting to tell you.

It seems like you may have a dire situation on your hands .... er, feet.
posted by Ostara at 5:59 PM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My kitty loves to vigorously lick and nibble my armpits, especially if they're a little sweaty. She also thinks my bras are in some way delicious and fascinating. I've always guessed it was a combo of salt and pleasant, pheromey human stink that motivates her. Also, yeah, ear wax on either used q-tips that she pulls out of the trash or ear plugs. Let's just assume it's salt and not them plotting the day they finally decide to rebel and eat our tasty flesh.
posted by mostlymartha at 6:36 PM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Ditto jamaro - my cat has a (gross) thing for earwax too. They are aliens with their own inexplicable desires. Maybe they are just trying to get closer to their "pride" or something and this is the way they like to do it - surround themselves in the distinct smells of their family.
posted by media_itoku at 8:12 PM on November 13, 2008

I've had cats forcefully shove their heads inside my shoes. Does that count?
posted by amtho at 8:46 PM on November 13, 2008

Best answer: They are expressing their affection for you, the loving little kitties.

However, (just as with children) you have to set boundaries for them, as to what's OK for you, and what isn't. For example, licking, nibbling, OK, but biting or drawing blood, NOT OK. Just be firm and consistent with them and they will learn just where your boundary is. This will prevent them from making human flesh their preferred cat food.
posted by exphysicist345 at 9:37 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

My cat loves to suck on me. Especially when I'm trying to work. Apparently i haz a flavr.
posted by spamguy at 6:31 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

My old cat tried to eat my eye once. It means they are in love.
posted by scarello at 6:51 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yeah, some cats really like our taste. On of my work colleagues has a cat that just loves to sniff and lick his worn shirts. Yesterday I found my cat vigorously licking a used q-tip that she had fished out of a trash can. Some kind of ear wax fetish I guess. Yuck!
posted by Nightwind at 7:14 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

My own cat was into feet and shoes for a while too. A couple years later he just sort of grew out of it and took up sleeping in the sink instead. Then he gave that up for obsessing over emory boards.

Cats just have some weird habits sometimes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:20 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you want to try to break the kitties of this behavior, you need to tell them in "kitten-speak" that they're hurting you. When they do the toe-biting, make a high-pitched "yelp" and pull away. This is the same noise a fellow kitten makes to signal "Ouch! Playtime just became paintime!" Keep doing this and they will get the picture.
posted by radioamy at 7:35 AM on November 14, 2008

Best answer: nthing the salt thing. my kitties lurve licking my hands and arms for the salt. and one of the cats has a severe infatuation with stinky shoes. gross, but also hilarious.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 8:18 AM on November 14, 2008

Best answer: My kitteh loves, loves, loves earplugs because of the earwax. I have to hide them from her. And she'll give my face a tongue bath as long as I will let her when I come home from the gym. It's got to be a combination of the salt and your flavr.
posted by Faithos at 10:56 AM on November 14, 2008

Best answer: earwax wholly crap am i glad my cat doesn't want anything to do with my earwax. i had a kitten that used to like to suck on my hair which was kind of weird but that's about it.
posted by Soulbee at 10:56 AM on November 14, 2008

My cat loves the taste of the top of my head. Not the sides, not the back, the top.
posted by mistsandrain at 1:50 PM on November 14, 2008

A friend's cat goes berserk for my jackets, backpacks: anything that's been in my armpit for a long time. She's done that for years and years; it's quite funny.

Also, depending on how they lick/suck, it may also be a weaning thing. One of our cats used to constantly try to suckle mr. epersonae's neck, and she's the one who does the treading thing the most. (We call it "pillow autism" because usually she goes into this fugue state on a pillow. Sometimes on chests/stomachs/backs as well.) Our guess has always been that she was insufficiently weaned.
posted by epersonae at 5:24 PM on November 14, 2008

Best answer: One of our cats loves to lick my earlobes; I have both of mine pierced, and I get the feeling that she finds the plasma on my hoops to be a treat. :p
posted by korpios at 1:40 PM on November 15, 2008

korpios, at least it's just your ears. My cat loved to nibble on my nipple rings. Which is a VERY VERY INAPPROPRIATE THING TO DO TO A SLEEPING PERSON.
posted by desuetude at 2:07 PM on November 15, 2008

My cat loved to nibble on my nipple rings. Which is a VERY VERY INAPPROPRIATE THING TO DO TO A SLEEPING PERSON.

I own the fact that this is a bit of a digression, but desuetude, my cat and a former roommate have your story beat --

My former (male) roommate had a kind of lacksadaisical atittude towards keeping his bedroom door closed, and had a very warm room -- and thus often slept naked without sheets.

One morning my roommate was sleeping in and I was in the bathroom getting ready for the day, when I suddenly heard a shriek coming from his room. I ran out in time to see my cat run out of my roommate's room. "What happened?" I asked, running to my roommate's door and looking in.

My roommate was sitting on the edge of his bed, totaly naked, his hands pressed protectively over his groin. He looked up at me and all he said was, "...your cat just found a new toy."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:35 PM on November 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

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